Friday, October 16, 2009

The View from Fort Collins

By R.B. Moreno

Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers' adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are opens tonight across North America. "The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another," the original story begins, "His mother called him 'WILD THING!'" Sendak's 1963 picture book runs just 338 words, and it tells of a boy who must go to bed without supper:
That very night in Max's room a forest grew and grew––and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.
On Thursday morning, Sendak fans might realize, Jonze and Eggers' adaptation was spectacularly upstaged. Because for a couple of hours here in Colorado, the walls did become the world around another mischievous boy––as his imaginary self took to the sky in another kind of boat. "'Balloon boy' Falcon Heene found safe in attic of Fort Collins home," is how a team from The Denver Post reports the story in today's paper, which continues:
the bizarre image of a homemade, helium-filled flying saucer — thought to be carrying a 6-year-old boy — transfixed a global television audience as it blew for 50 miles across the Colorado sky.

But the tale of a boy's unplanned flight from his Fort Collins backyard aboard his father's experimental aircraft took two jarring turns: first when the craft settled to earth with no sign of the boy; and later, when young Falcon Heene reappeared, frightened but safe, from his hiding place in the family's garage attic.
Along the way, rescue workers from several jurisdictions mobilized, helicopters filled the air, Denver International Airport rerouted planes and perhaps millions of television viewers watched with reactions ranging from horror to disbelief.

At a news conference after the boy emerged, the family said Falcon hid because his father had earlier yelled at him when he tried to climb into the craft.
Police want to know more about why Falcon hid in the attic. But last night, there was also good news for the boy and his brothers at home in blustery south Fort Collins: despite satellite trucks at the playground and reporters lounging on the front lawn, in this adaptation, there would be pizza.

Update: the county sheriff says Falcon's disappearance was part of a hoax orchestrated by his parents. In November they pled guilty to related charges; Richard Heene began serving a 90-day jail sentence in January.


  1. Very clever comparison, R.B. And to think that this happened in your own backyard! Crazy times, these are.

    Have you seen the movie?

  2. Thanks, AP. I plan to see it tonight.

  3. I heard bits and pieces of this story at work on Thursday, I didn't realize it happened in your neighborhood! What a way to make national news. Enjoy the movie, I plan to see it this week too :-)